HomeDigital Platforms & APIsOrange looks to exit French banking market after losing €1bn

    Orange looks to exit French banking market after losing €1bn


    Operator in exclusive talks with BNP Paribas – if the deal goes ahead, it could be extended to Orange Bank’s customers in Spain

    The French operator says it has concluded a strategic review of Orange Bank and entered exclusive talks with BNP Paribas to exit retail banking in France. Orange’s foray into retail banking in Europe began with the acquisition of a majority stake in Groupama Banque in 2016 but Orange Bank in France only launched in late 2017.

    It was seen as a cornerstone for growth and diversification by former Stéphane Richard, Orange’s former group CEO and a pillar of the Engage2025 strategic plan. Orange Bank has about 2 million clients in France and Spain, where is launched in 2019.

    However, it has failed to make a profit: sources claim it has incurred losses of more than €1 billion since launch and the intended launches in Belgium, Poland and Slovakia never materialised.

    Change of direction

    Richard’s successor, Christel Heydemann, who became CEO at the beginning of April 2022, is far more interested in creating growth from core telco activities and offloading non-core units. By last November, she was said to be looking to offload the banking unit, having entered into negotiations to divest Orange’s film and TV assets.

    Reuters says that Orange has not found it easy to find a buyer and that talks are exploring how BNP Paribas and Orange could form a partnership. If it goes ahead, BNP Paribas will incentivise Orange’s banking customers in France to switch to its online brand, Hello Bank!

    Hello Bank! has 3.3 million customers in Europe, 800,000 of whom are in France. It is possible that a similar approach will be taken in Spain.

    Orange has said it will look to redeploy the 700 Orange Bank staff. Heydemann said in a statement about the future of Orange Bank today: “Our priority will be to provide exemplary support for all our employees and customers. This process will be carried out in complete transparency, within the framework of our dialogue with our staff representative bodies.”